Gear is increasingly high-tech these days, from ultralight shells to stronger-than-steel running shoes. Even the cast-iron skillet has gotten an upgrade. But one piece of gear has remained largely unchanged for decades: the lowly water cooler.
If you’ve spent much time car camping, you’ve probably used some sort of square plastic water jug with a spigot and big handle on top, the kind you can pick up at a hardware store for less than $20. So when Yeti announced it was coming out with a hard-sided water cooler, we were intrigued. How would the company’s famous burly, overbuilt design compare with the cheap jugs we’ve been using for years?
I haven’t yet tested the Silo 6G ($300), but a sample just arrived in our office, and a first glance tells me the insulation could be a game changer, though the burliness might be overkill for basic car camping.
For context: a Reliance Aquatainer ($18) is a near-permanent resident in the back of my car for weekend camping and climbing trips. It’s cheap and dependable, it holds seven gallons of water, and it’s easy to move around at camp, thanks to its modest dimensions (11.5 by 12 by 16 inches, smaller than most home printers). The Silo, on the other hand, holds six gallons, but it’s 15.5 by 15.5 by 18 inches, roughly equivalent to a midsize guitar amp. It’s also heavy—16 pounds empty, compared with the Aquatainer’s two pounds. In practice, this means the Silo won’t fit in some kitchen sinks, it will take up more room in your trunk, and it’ll be a burden to carry when full.
Unwieldiness notwithstanding, the Silo improves on classic water-jug design in a couple ways. The big, cooler-style opening allows easy access to dump in a bag of ice, and Yeti’s pressure-injected foam insulation and extra-thick walls mean the water will stay cold. In my book, the promise of cold water all weekend is enough to balance out the size and weight drawbacks. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve returned to my car after a hot day in the mountains to find my water stash practically boiling.
Unlike the Aquatainer, the Silo doesn’t lock in the open-spigot position, which means no hands-free dishwashing. Then again, if you only have six gallons of cold water, chances are you’ll want to save it for drinking and use a separate supply for cleaning duty.
Like Yeti’s Tundra line, the Silo is sturdy enough to double as a stool or table, with a grippy top finish to keep your happy hour in place, and it’s got large carry handles and latches that won’t come undone if bumped or jostled.
The Silo 6G goes on sale later this summer, and as temperatures crest the 90s here in Santa Fe, I’m excited to pack it into the back of my car and see how it changes my hydration game.